Back in March, we the people voted and chose the Gael García Bernal vehicle Mozart in the Jungle among the crop of potential Amazon web series that included the critically acclaimed Transparent. Mozart, a joint effort by primos Roman Coppola and Jason Schwartzman, received a full season order which Amazon will release in its entirety on December 23. We’ve discussed the pilot (which is currently streaming), and now that the season trailer’s been released, we can dissect this latest bit of Gaelindura.
As previously mentioned, Mozart in the Jungle is an adaptation of Blair Tindall’s memoir of her time spent as a concert musician. Tindall’s stand-in is North Carolina transplant and talented oboist, Hailey (Lola Kirke). We see Hailey supplementing her income as a busker, partying with fellow classical music nerds, and worrying aloud that by struggling to earn a living with her art, she isn’t really making much of either.
Hailey is discovered by Gael’s Rodrigo, the brash and talented new conductor for the New York Symphony. He shows up to shake things up, which enrages exiting maestro Thomas (Malcolm McDowell). But from the looks of it, Thomas is the only one resisting Rodrigo’s charms and plans: everyone from the board chair (Bernadette Peters) to the orchestra’s players (Saffron Burrows) is effusive with their praise and attraction (Rodrigo romances his assistant in the first twenty minutes of the show.)
There’s a surfeit of music-related double entendres; one of Rodrigo’s lovers screams “Fortissimo!” during one of their… sessions. Cellists make jokes about violinists’ lack of stamina due to all the arpeggios they play. And the symphony’s PR people decide to usher in the age of Rodrigo with the phrase “Hear the Hair” (but he’s not exactly displeased).
Obviously, Gael’s Rodrigo is a delight to watch: he salsas, he fiddles, he grins with wolfish glee. He literally takes the ensemble out of the auditorium and into the streets to reach out to the communities that should support them. The book and the series draw the standard “enfant terrible” parallels between Rodrigo and Amadeus (as in Mozart), but as he pores over scores, it’s clear that Rodrigo takes his new responsibilities very seriously.
There’s also a great supporting cast: Bernadette Peters is always at home in the music world, and I got a chill when McDowell’s Thomas tells Rodrigo that he must “kill the king” in order to properly take his place. Mozart in the Jungle is mostly silly and a little racy, but you should definitely clear your schedule to marathon the show during the Holidays.
The first season of Mozart in the Jungle is available starting December 23, 2014 on Amazon.